Over the last decade, there has been a strong rise in the amount of litigation claims involving slip and fall accidents. Therefore, it is in the best interest of architects, engineers, facility managers, manufacturers and the like to consider the safety of pedestrians by testing the slip resistance of their flooring surfaces.

The law is very clear that responsibility lies very much with the building owner/employer to ensure that floors are as safe as possible.

Under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974

  • Employers have to ensure their employees and anyone else who could be affected by their work (such as visitors, members of the public, patients etc.) are kept safe from harm and that there health is not affected. This means slip and trips risks must be controlled to ensure people do not slip, trip and fall.
  • Employees must use any safety equipment provided and must not cause danger to themselves or others.
  • Manufacturers and suppliers have a duty to ensure that their products are safe. They must also provide information about appropriate use.

The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999

  • Builds on the requirements of the Act and include duties on employers to assess risks (including slip and trip risks) and where necessary take action to safeguard health and safety.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992

  • Require floors to be suitable for the workplace and work activity, kept in good condition and kept free from obstructions. You must ensure that people can move around safely.

Regulation 12 Work (Health Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992

Regulation 12(1) as read with Regulation 12(2) and (4) is concerned with the construction of the floor (or surface of the traffic route).

The requirement is a continuing one, so that it will be necessary throughout the life of the floor to consider its suitability for the purpose for which it is at any time being used; any change to the state of the floor by, for example, the effect of wear will require review. This requirement is not limited by any qualification as to practicability. Regulation 12 92) deals with particular aspects of suitability which may effect health or safety. These include slipperiness.

No floor shall be “slippery {as to it’s construction} so as to expose any person to a risk to his health and safety”. This phraseology envisages that a floor may, as to its construction, be slippery with one or other of two consequences, namely, first so as to expose any person to a risk to his health or safety, second, so as not to so expose any person. It is only slipperiness of the first kind to which the requirement is directed. The phrase “to expose any person to a risk” to his health or safety, when applied to the state of a floor, imports, a state which prospectively gives rise to an adverse consequence for health or safety.

Accordingly, the circumstances that a person in fact slipped on the floor, while it may be relevant evidence as to a state of slipperiness, is not determinative of the state. That state must be viewed form a point in time in advance of any accident in respect of which a breach of the regulation is alleged. Such an approach is also consistent with the primary purpose of such regulation, namely, the avoidance of harm by taking measures in advance “Risk Assessments” (Was the floor safe before the accident) therefore slip resistance testing should be considered as an important step in minimising exposure to costly litigation.